The Banished Bride
The Banished Bride is the story of a husband and wife who barely set eyes on each other at their arranged wedding, separate, and years later meet under very different circumstances. What happens when they fall in love without knowing each other’s true identity, and the fall out when they do discover who the other is, makes for an intriguing plot that unfortunately, doesn’t deliver as well as it could have.
Aurora Sprague runs The Sprague Agency for Distressed Females along with her former governess. Men of Society think she dispenses advice to nervous women or gives them innocent little potions, but what she actually does is help women who are truly in need, such as women who are being beaten or women who need to investigate a man in their lives. By word of mouth Aurora has gained a good reputation, along with some needed income, because although she is married, she doesn’t even use her husband’s last name and goes by a different first name.
When Aurora was 14, she was married to James Hadley Alexander Fenimore, known as Alex, thanks to arrangements made over a card game. While he left for India, she was left with a small stipend but has had no further contact with him. It is when she embarks on her latest mission and Alex, now the new Earl of Woodbridge, is dealing with someone who wants him dead that their worlds collide.
All Alex knows is that he should be looking for a female spy, and sure enough, upon finding Aurora on her way back home, he decides she is the culprit, but his attempt to capture her is thwarted by the fact that he is badly wounded. As she nurses him back to health they are already enthralled with one another and thinking to themselves that they don’t even know each other’s names. Of course when they do introduce themselves, the names they go by – Mrs. Aurora Sprague and Major Alex Woodmore – give them no clue as to their real identities.
Predictably enough, Alex and Aurora fall in love, never knowing what they really are to each other, parting on what are supposed to be bittersweet terms, but since we know they’ll meet again – and soon – given the length of the book, the parting doesn’t have much of an emotional impact. The lack of emotion isn’t helped by weak characterizations. These were not empathetic characters and since I couldn’t relate to them and saw no change or growth in them as the story progressed, their plight wasn’t of particular interest.
Andrea Pickens has gotten some very positive reviews at AAR, which is why I wanted to read The Banished Bride. Although this book didn’t fulfill my expectations, the writing was interesting enough that I’ll give her work another try.